BY BTL Staff
MICHIGAN – The Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH), the statewide leader on adolescent sexual health, has been awarded a three-year federal grant for their project called Building a Movement for Michigan Gay Straight Alliances (BAMM GSAs). This project will bring together otherwise isolated stakeholders across Michigan, all of which are experienced in improving health outcomes of LGBT youth, to increase the number and capacity of GSAs in the state.
Awarded early last month through the Mobilization for Health: National Prevention Partnership Awards (NPPA) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), MOASH has already begun its work with six committed partners including Equality Michigan, Southeast Michigan Chapter of GLSEN, GLSEN – West Michigan Chapter, Kent Intermediate School District, Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Neutral Zone (NZ).
This year, BAMM GSAs will conduct a situational assessment of Michigan GSAs, hold the first annual statewide Working Summit on GSAs and create a Michigan-specific model program for organizational development of GSAs. In future years, in-person advising and technical assistance will be provided to GSAs across the state.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to work with such outstanding partners on a project that will have a significant impact on the youth of Michigan,” said Shelly L. Hoffman, MOASH’s executive director.
GSAs are youth organizations that provide safe space for LGBT young people and improve school climate for all students. According to GLSEN’s 2011 Climate Report, Michigan LGBT youth report being victimized and excluded, as well as sexually, verbally and physically harassed at dramatically higher rates than youth that do not identify as LGBT. Based on results from the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey, LGBT youth are much more likely than their non-LGBT peers to miss school, be physically injured, feel depressed, consider or attempt suicide, use substances and engage in risky sexual behavior. GSAs directly impact these factors by reducing engagement in risky behaviors and improving health outcomes through social support, group affirmations and advocacy for supportive policies.
Prior to MOASH’s BAMM GSAs program, no plan was in place to develop a statewide Michigan strategy, network or resource for the promotion, implementation or development of GSAs. BAMM GSAs has the potential to become a transformational intervention that will address structural deficits in the quality and accessibility of services and resources for LGBT youth in Michigan.
Those who wish to follow MOASH’s progress are directed to sign up for the MOASH e-newsletter and press releases and like MOASH’s Facebook page to stay informed on this exciting and groundbreaking program. Please visit this website to find out more:.